Caricatures are more effective than police sketches

British researchers are recommending that cops drop the practice of circulating police sketches of suspects in favor of crazy, amusement-pier-style caricatures that "over-emphasise prominent features."
A study at the University of Central Lancashire found that over-emphasising prominent features on people's faces made them twice as easy to identify than before.

The researchers used computer software to alter the faces of 18 celebrities which had been created using three standard photofit techniques. The faces were then turned into caricatures by exaggerating certain features, such as the size of a person's ears, forehead or nose, by as much as 50%.


(Image credit: Dad, a Creative Commons Attribution licensed picture from PhylB's Flickr photostream)


  1. Reminds me a bit of Gibson’s ‘Separated at Birth’ software from Virtual Light, that identifies people according to which celebrity they resemble. A piece of software that doesn’t exist yet, but needs writing.

  2. Sounds like they’ve shown it works for celebrities’ faces, not anyone else’s. Did they allow for the fact that celebrities might be more recognizable than ordinary folks because their features are unusually attractive, or even just unusual?

  3. They really should adopt William Gibson’s idea from “Virtual Light”. The cops in his world use a program called “Separated at Birth” that takes a photograph of a suspect and figures out which celebrity they look most like. That way the cops can say, “Hey, have you seen a guy that looks like a young Tommy Lee Jones?”

  4. I just hope this results in jet skis, tennis racquets, and cotton candy making their way onto wanted posters.

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